The New Everyboy Names: Emmett, River, and Axel

January 12, 2014 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

What’s the 2014 equivalent of the old phrase “Every Tom, Dick, and Harry?”

Every Aiden, Mason, and Jake?

Every Max, Zac, and Jackson?

The most popular names for boys used to hold steady for years.  In 1932, the ten most popular names for boys born in the US were Robert, James, John, William, Richard, Charles, Donald, George, Joseph, and Thomas.  Twenty years later, eight of those ten names were still dominant.  Fast-forward to the 1980s, and 30% of the 1932 boys’ Top Ten still ranked.

As for the girls?  That’s a different picture.  Between 1932 and 1952, seven of the girls’ Top Ten fell.  Shirley and Doris made way for Linda and Susan, and the change has continued at a rapid pace.  None of the 1930s or 1950s girls’ favorites still held a top spot by 2012.

And yet there are more wearable names for boys than ever before.  Plenty of parents are still passing down grandpa Joseph’s name, but the pressure to do so seems to be on the decline.  We live in a more accepting age, where diversity in names feels quite normal.

This week’s baby name news was filled with boys with great names – appealing, but not astonishingly different.  They wouldn’t raise an eyebrow if you heard them called out on a playground in your neighborhood, or announced on a friend-of-a-friend’s Facebook page.

Here are nine names that might be worthy of consideration if you’re expecting a son, and plenty of proof that the definition of a wearable boy name is broader than ever before.

River IsaacNCIS: Los Angeles star Daniela Ruah and fiancé David Olsen are new parents.  The couple paired a modern nature name with a Biblical favorite.  It’s a pleasing combination for a son, a nice balance between the daring and the safe. River was startlingly original when young actor River Phoenix made his big screen debut in the 1980s.  At #407 in 2012, he’s currently at his most popular.

XavierDwyane Wade’s new son with ex-girlfriend Aja Metoyer arrived at the end of 2013.  The Miami Heat star confirmed that his third son is named Xavier ZechariahDwyane must love that X-Z sound.  His older sons from a previous marriage are Zaire and Zion.  All three names would have once seemed rather exotic, but today they’re pretty mainstream – Xavier ranked #81 in 2012, and Zion and Zaire have both charted in the US Top 1000 for more than a decade.

Durham – Speaking of basketball, how ‘bout this North Carolina place name, which happens to be home to basketball (and academic) powerhouse Duke University.  It’s borrowed from England, and it’s the rarest first name on this week’s list, given to just nine boys in 2012.  Baby Name Addict overheard it in a bookstore.  If we’re calling our children Austin and Boston, doesn’t Durham seem like a possibility?

EmmetThe Lego Movie hits theaters in a few weeks, with animated minifigures as the stars of the show.  Emmet is the main character, voiced by Chris Pratt, an ordinary Lego guy tapped to save the universe in all its interlocking plastic glory.  While the single –t spelling is rare, Emmett ranked #186 in 2012, boosted by a Twilight vampire and all of those Em– names for girls.

Matteo – He’s a popular Italian pick – in Germany!  German name site Beliebte Vornamen reported that Matteo, Luca, Liam, and Mats were all fast-rising choices last year.  Imported versions of classic names are stylish in the US, too, where Matteo ranked #412 in 2012, and the single-t Mateo charted at #138.

Axel – Let’s head to Australia next, where Anna has been busy predicting the future Top 100Axel made her list of boys’ possibles, along with other up-and-comers, like Jude, Cruz, and Camden – names, I’ve been watching in the US, too.  Can’t get enough of names from an Aussie perspective?  Anna has her first ebook out this month!

Carter – He’s numero uno in Canada, according to Canadian Living MagazineKathy Buckworth wrote in The Huffington Post that the list wasn’t surprising – “Canadians are fairly traditionalist.”  I understand her point, but Carter as a Top Ten name?  He’s #36 in the US, his most popular ever.  Some families have always promoted surnames to the first spot, but when Carter keeps company with David and James?  I’m not sure it is unconventional, but is definitely interesting.

Jasper – Outgoing New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed his first grandchild, thanks to daughter Georgina and her partner Ramiro QuintanaJasper Michael Brown Quintana owes his first middle to grandpa and his second middle to Susan Brown, Michael’s ex-wife and Georgina’s mother.  Jasper – yet another name worn by a good vampire in Twilight – ranked #264 in 2012, and feels very wearable in 2014.

John AetherDevious Maids star Dania Ramirez and her director husband John Beverly Amos Land have welcomed their twins!  We’ll talk about sister Gaia’s name next week, but for now, let’s take a look at their new son.  John shares his first with dad, but they couple plans to call him Aether – as in the pure air breathed by the gods in Greek mythology.  It’s also the fifth element, the substance believed to fill much of the universe for centuries of scientific hypothesizing.  It’s a daring name for a boy, but if River and Xavier and Carter and Jasper are heard everywhere, is Aether so out there?

Do you agree that there are more options for boy names than ten years ago?  What are your favorite boys’ names? 


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